On this channel, we don’t just celebrate the BEST games of the year, we also gotta talk about the WORST games of the year. And yeah, this year provided a lot of those unfortunately. Whether that be a poorly executed mess of good ideas or just a bad idea outright that somehow made it into video game form – I played and reviewed a lot of bad games this year, but the following ten topped that list. So let’s go ahead and get started with some dishonorable mentions before moving into the full list.
Honorable Mention 1: Café Stella and the Reaper’s Butterflies
This one hurt a bit, because I generally enjoy Yuzusoft visual novels. I’m not going to make the case that their stories are all that great, but they’re nice to kick back to and generally a comfy read all around with some ridiculously high production values. Café Stella has the production values, but wow is the story some of the most boring moe I have read in a long while. There was far too much filler, the romance was incredibly forced, and the game liked to really fall back on those typical eroge tropes that are just annoying at this point. An overall mess of a visual novel and a massive step down from the studio’s previous works.
Honorable Mention 2: Monark
Perhaps the edgiest game of the year, Monark was a bit of Persona, a bit of The Caligula Effect, but did neither of these inspirations justice. The combat was at least fun at times, but that was coupled with some incredibly grindy progression and some absolutely tedious gameplay outside of it. And yeah, the story has some decent themes to it, but they’re all thrown together with very little actual coherence and it’s filled with so many of those traditional anime tropes that it’s just kinda hard to take seriously. Given the serious nature of the storyline, yeah… this kinda kills the experience.
Honorable Mention 3: Yurukill: The Calumniation Games
What could have been an interesting blend of the visual novel and shoot ‘em up genres ended up failing on both fronts. Yurukill forces these two genres together into a mess that left me wondering what exactly it was trying to be. The art was fine, the point-and-click stuff was fine, but the entire story fell flat and I couldn’t escape this feeling that it was just a failed take on the Danganronpa formula. Unimpressive shoot ‘em up elements, unimpressive storyline, just a boring visual novel all around and a tough recommendation in an already crowded genre.
10. Rune Factory 5
So this one has at least a little bit of saving grace. It went from a completely awful Switch release full of some of the worst frame rates and technical issues I have ever seen on the platform to a fairly okay PC release with most of these problems fixed. Of course, it still looks like a Switch game and has the usual asset pop-in and all that, but at least it wasn’t grating on my eyes. The gameplay, story, and characters though remained unchanged and it just lacked the charm of the fourth game – it felt empty, lifeless, and boring. That is what ultimately led me to dropping the game and thus hoping for a redemption from 3 Special coming out next year.
9. Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem
Serious Sam is a great series, but I can’t say the same for the spin-off released earlier this year. It has that same fun run-and-gun style gameplay, but has some odd gameplay dips in the form of awkward enemy designs that felt like they went against the core of the Serious Sam experience. That and this game was absolutely riddled with technical issues, including massive frame drops from 155 all the way down to 40 and back constantly, microstutters, and outright freezing lasting several seconds at a time. The gameplay was occasionally fun, but not when it was constantly interrupted by such issues and I can’t say I would recommend it as a result.
8. Hello Lady! – Complete Edition
This visual novel started off strong. You had a relatively cool magical high school VN setting – which I know is kinda not that unique, but it was at least interesting here – and the common route wasn’t even that bad. However, once it gets into character route territory the story drops off hard. The romance is incredibly forced, the protagonist just becomes outright annoying, and while the mystery may have been somewhat interesting, the ultimate feeling I had here was one of disappointment that not even the retconned ending could make up for. It fizzled out far too quickly for me to care and thus earned itself a spot in this list.
7. Soul Hackers 2
This one is confusing for me, because I feel like people are constantly giving it a pass simply because it is from the Megami Tensei series. Like, I’m a fan of that series too and have no problems dumping on this game. Soul Hackers 2 is a roughly 30 hour JRPG with okay graphics, okay music, decent combat, but absolutely atrocious dungeon design, a very monotonous gameplay loop, and a story that leans more towards boring than interesting and just feels out of place given the usual nature of this series. There are far better JRPGs out there people, you don’t need to subject yourself to this one simply because it bears the Megami Tensei name.
6. SAMURAI MAIDEN
The devs behind this one previously placed 5th in my top 10 worst of 2020, so they’re pretty close again this year with SAMURAI MAIDEN. Here we have another visual novel passing itself off as an action hack and slash game in the vein of Senran Kagura and the visual novel stuff isn’t even that good. The story is poorly paced and predictable, the combat is far too slow and clunky to be fun for more than like thirty minutes, and the balance between these two genres just does not make for a fun game, which is especially disappointing given the premium pricing. Literally just go play the Senran Kagura series instead – this one was not worth the time.
5. We Are OFK
It always hurts me to include an indie game on here that obviously has a lot of passion behind it, but yeah, We Are OFK was just not fun. Or rather, not interesting – I don’t think fun is the right word given that there is pretty much no gameplay here and you’re mostly just watching a movie play out while occasionally being asked to advance text. The music may slap, but the pacing fell off, the characters were too overly quirky and unrealistic for the story’s own good, and the writing felt like something I could have done in middle school. A massive disappointment given that I’m usually into these types of indies.
4. METAL MAX Xeno Reborn
For being the series’ first showing on PC, I couldn’t be more disappointed. Xeno Reborn brings some good ideas to the table – like the setting and party customization – but combines that with so many outright bizarre design choices and technical issues ranging from unintuitive and slow controls to outright game freezes. Even disregarding that, the gameplay is just too monotonous for its own good and the level design and graphics were something I would expect out of a mobile game, not a full-fledged high-price title.
3. Super Bullet Break
What could have been a cool anime take on Slay the Spire ended up being one of the worst deckbuilding card battlers I have played. To be fair, the mechanics are actually fine and the possible synergies are cool, but the balancing is completely off and the entire thing is slapped with one of those mobile game aesthetics and some incredibly low production values. It is far too grindy, far too reliant on chance, and the PC port is yet another low effort offering from this publisher, including no graphical options whatsoever. For having so many other options in the genre far better than this, it’s hard to recommend even to the genre’s biggest fans.
For a studio that generally produces some cool visual novels, I can’t say I had a good time with ALPHA-NIGHTHAWK. Yeah, the art style is some really good stuff, but wow is this story just not interesting in the slightest. The writing is all over the place, with significant pacing issues, constant tone shifts, and lackluster character development that leads to the more climatic moments just coming off as flat and not having anywhere near the impact that they were going for. And it’s one of the few visual novels that I’ve played that actually has technical issues in the form of constant freezing. Even disregarding that though, it’s just not worth it.
1. Touken Ranbu Warriors
How the Musou series can go from a great spin-off in the form of Persona 5 Strikers to the absolute travesty that is Touken Ranbu Warriors is truly astounding to me. Gone are the open and enemy-heavy levels that usually define this series and instead you get these incredibly small arenas connected by short paths where the only enemies are skeletons and skeleton variants. Levels can be walked in literal seconds and missions can be completed in just a few minutes. The mission structure, repetition, and level design are egregious – much more so than the usual for this series and even as someone familiar with the Touken Ranbu series and its characters, not even that could save this mess of a game – cementing itself as my personal worst game of the year.
And that’s it for my list! Probably upset a lot of people, but yeah, that’s kinda how these lists work and again – it’s just my opinion anyways. That said, let me know what your own personal worst games of the year were or maybe why you think a game on my list doesn’t belong. Thanks to the patrons being displayed on-screen right now for supporting the channel directly, thanks to you all for watching, and now that this list is out of the way, I can begin work on the BEST games of the year – so do be subscribed and on the lookout for that one.